Working with — not for — veterans to get help they need

veteran employment job fair

Unemployed U.S. Air Force veteran Tracy McConner, 45, registers at the Military and Veterans Employment Expo on May 24, 2011 in Golden, Colorado. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

By Jake Hughes

The program that helped me the most was a work-placement group called the Worklife Institute based in Houston, Texas. They’re a civilian organization that works closely with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, helping only service members and their families find work.

When I first got out of the U.S. Army, I thought I had a solid plan. Within weeks, however, reality set in, and I realized my “solid” plan was about as solid as a boat made of Swiss cheese. After that I was aimless, sitting in an extended-stay hotel for months, sending résumé after résumé, only to get no responses.

It was two months before I finally asked for help. The Houston VA’s Vocational Rehab set me up with the Institute, and they immediately identified numerous problems with my résumé, poked many holes in my plans and generally made me feel horrible about myself.

However, it was for the best because as soon as they found a problem they solved it with me, not for me. They worked through my issues, helped me build a résumé and got me smart on interview protocols. Before you knew it, I was hired by, and here I stand today with my dream job, being on-air and helping people.

The moral of the story is never give up, and never be afraid to ask for help. You have so many programs and organizations available to help you find employment and meaning after you leave the service.

Reach out to the VA, friends, and to us at


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